Cities Of Tomorrow

9 September 2014

How do we design and engineer cities that can cope with increasing pressure on resources and also meet carbon and climate change challenges? Costain is playing its part in an ambitious research programme that aims to find out.

Liveable Cities is a five-year programme led by a team at the University of Birmingham. Working with specialists from Southampton, UCL and Lancaster universities, they are developing a methodology that measures how cities perform in terms of people, environment and governance, taking into account wellbeing and resource security.

Using this methodology the team will establish how low carbon, resource secure, liveable UK cities could look – and work out what we need to do now to create that future. The Living Cities team then plans to develop radical but realistic engineering solutions that will be tested in Birmingham, Lancaster and Southampton.

“We’ll be exploring issues like removing some of the need to travel in cities, the exploitation of ecosystem services, and how to take advantage of green infrastructure in city centres,” said Birmingham University’s Professor Chris Rogers, Principal Investigator. “In five years’ time I’d like to think we’ll have influenced the thinking of our city makers to do things both better and differently, and provide some confidence in the idea that we can make cities low carbon, resource secure places that can also deliver well-being.”

Said Damien Canning, Costain Group Carbon Manager: “Costain has embraced this research programme to assist with progress towards meeting its commitments under the Infrastructure Carbon Review. The review is a business commitment to improve corporate resources to drive carbon reductions during construction and operation of infrastructure projects.”

Claire Baker, Sustainability Solutions Manager in Costain’s Power Sector said: “We are taking action now, by using the main themes within the research to develop new solutions for our customers that enable them to create healthy living places for their customers. We are collaborating with innovative companies and finding smart ways in which we can manage energy use in line with the research aspiration of reducing demand on energy generation. Costain, in collaboration with its customers, can play a significant part in ensuring we deliver Liveable Cities.”   

The Liveable Cities team is guided and supported by a group of expert panellists drawn from a range of disciplines across industry and the public sector. Members include Tim Embley, Costain’s Group Innovation & Knowledge Manager.

“We want to test our ideas out on the public and private sectors’ leading thinkers,” said Chris. “We’re keen to find out how our work can be translated into practice, and also to hear their thoughts on how we might shape the cities of the future.”

He says Costain will benefit too: “Our research will provide a clearer end point – companies like Costain will understand how better to deliver value for the far future. So when a client produces a brief, companies will be able to re-interpret that brief to deliver better value. Not only will they be able to change the world, they’ll win more work too!”

The innovation Costain brings to its operations today can also help create these future cities, added Damian. “We’re already cutting our carbon consumption through the use of technology such as hybrid generators and vehicles powered by fuel cells. Involvement in projects like Liveable Cities reinforces what we’re doing on the ground and also ensures we keep at the very cutting edge of technology and innovation, addressing important societal challenges such as carbon.”
For Tim, Costain’s involvement in the Livable Cities programme is the latest example of the Engineering Tomorrow corporate strategy in action, with Costain’s research capability accelerating innovation to customers. “I am delighted to see our operational team embrace the advantages of low carbon technology, develop new services that provide our customers with the capability to lead the way, and make the UK an attractive investment, where people want to work, live, invest and enjoy.”



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